What is your history/career path prior to Interra International?
I finished college with a degree in biochemical engineering and a master’s in food science. Right after college I started working for Sigma Alimentos. I worked in different positions, supervising production of processed meats, quality control and research and development. I moved to Chicago in 1996 to take a job with Viskase Corporation, a manufacturer of specialized packaging materials, casings and films. I oversaw the Latin America technical department. In 2000, I was offered a job in Atlanta with a competitor, so I worked from 2000 to 2004 with AJC and Gerber Agri.
What are your current responsibilities?
As VP of sales for Mexico, I promote our products, including chicken, turkey and pork, in the Mexican market. Mexico is a key market for Interra. I have five direct reports, and a big part of my responsibility is traveling to Mexico once a month to meet with customers and vendors.
What do you enjoy most about working for Interra International?
The most fascinating thing about Interra is the diversity. When you walk in the office you can hear someone talking in Spanish, then you hear someone else speaking in Chinese, another in Arabic. I think that diversity is what I really enjoy. The other thing is that even though we are a big company, it feels like a big family. I know the people here well, even people I don’t work with directly. I like that at Interra you are not just a number in a huge company.
What’s your favorite story/memory about working for Interra International?
I’ve been with Interra for 14 years. One thing I remember a lot was our 15th anniversary party. We invited many of our customers and vendors, and everyone who attended had such a great time. There were CEOs and sales managers from other companies, all over the world. They all had something in common—Interra. They shared in our celebration. That was when it really hit me that Interra was truly a special company.
What important values do you think Interra International delivers on?
We have our core values: Insisting on Integrity, Striving for Excellence, Promoting Family, and Fostering Cooperation. We live those values every day. I really push my people to promote and live those values, and I try to lead by example.
What surprised you most about the job or Interra International?
I really like the unique system of business that we have. We are not just trying to sell and deliver products. All the things we can offer to a customer, not just the product, but the financing, the logistics, the quality control, make us very unique. The model is very special, and that’s what differentiates us from others.
The other thing that amazed me about Interra is the amount of information that we have. We need to do a better job promoting that information. Information is key in this business. A lot of our customers really value that—even big multi-million dollar companies will invite us to their planning meetings to talk about the markets. We need to use that information to get deeper in with the customers.
How do you spend your free time? What do you like to do in the city where you live?
I travel a lot, so when I’m home I try to spend quality time with my family. My kids are in college now, but we used to go to our kids’ sporting events all the time. We love to travel as a family. We have been doing this since the kids were little. We go on one or two nice trips as a family each year. It’s been challenging, but so far, we haven’t missed a single year. Recently we have visited Hawaii, Spain and Italy as a family.
What is your hidden talent? Or something most people don’t know about you?
I used to be a pilot! When I was seventeen, I was a co-pilot for a company that is now an Interra customer! When I started working in this business, I went to visit the company and the owner remembered me.
We used to fly all over Mexico, South Texas and Central America, and even once to Cuba.